Jan 11, 2022 - Politics

Minneapolis' new City Council president shares plan to bridge divides

Minneapolis' new City Council President Andrea Jenkins looks off-camera.
Andrea Jenkins is the new Minneapolis City Council president. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for New York Magazine

A Minneapolis City Council with seven new members began the process of governing Monday after electing a new president, Andrea Jenkins, and a new vice president, Linea Palmisano.

Why it matters: The council, which had its power weakened by voters in November, will deal with a shortage of affordable housing, rising crime and fractured police-community relations.

Yes, but: While members agree those are the top issues, they disagree on how to tackle them, with the most liberal wanting strict rent control policies and a public safety system with more alternatives to policing.

  • Meanwhile, more moderate members want a less prescriptive rent control policy and more cops to handle rising crime.

What to watch: It is the job of Jenkins, who was unanimously voted president by the 13-member council, to bring the two camps together.

  • "I'm going to work toward getting to 'yes' — not staying mired in respective, abstinent positions," Jenkins told Nick. "I am going to keep listening, keep talking. I think we can we can get there. We can bridge those divides."

Bio in brief: Jenkins, a writer and poet, was first elected in 2017 to represent Ward 8 in South Minneapolis. Prior to that, she worked as aide to former council members Elizabeth Glidden and Robert Lilligren.

  • As far as Jenkins knows, she is the first Black, openly transgender city council president in the country.
  • "The visibility of my role as the Minneapolis City Council president will hopefully provide some inspiration and goals for other young trans and gender non-conforming people to work toward," Jenkins said.

What they're saying: Jeff Hayden, a former state senator who worked with Jenkins in numerous capacities over two decades, said her experience as both a council member and a staffer gives her an advantage.

  • Hayden said her vision and track record of getting things done could help "left-leaning, uber-progressive members of the council ... figure out how we can move on the big ideas but at the same time be somewhat pragmatic in recognizing the challenges we have today."
  • Newly elected City Council Member Elliott Payne said, "It's no secret that the previous council ended up becoming very factionalized and she was able to be pretty successful in bringing everybody to the table."
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